Day 24: Lori Titus

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Lori Titus is a Californian with an affinity for dark fiction, and a knack for crafting sympathetic characters. Her work explores mysticism and reality, treading the blurred line between man and monster. She credits her mother and sister–both horror lovers–with her early love of the dark and strange.

An editor responded to one of her short story submissions, asking if she was willing to serialize it. That serial became the basis for her first novel, Hunting in Closed Spaces, Book One of The Marradith Ryder Series. Marradith is a young girl with extraordinary powers, which make her valuable to some, and dangerous to others.  Amid does of romance, magic, and werewolf lore, she attempts to find her place in and amongst figures, so so easily  categorized as good or evil.
Her work is also features in the anthology of horror fiction and poetry by African-American women, Sycorax’s Daughters.

Her latest release, Blood Relations, is a paranormal tale of religious fanaticism, witchcraft, and murder in a small South Carolina town.

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Learn more about Lori on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

 

Day 23: Miracle Austin

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Miracle Austin is a Young Adult (YA)/New Adult (NA) cross-genre author, working and residing in Texas. While she doesn’t limit her writing to specific genres, horror and suspense are her favorites, and consequently many adults also enjoy her work.

Her first mini-story, PENS, appeared in leaves-of-ink, its prose in poetic form striking. Her has also had her stories performed on The Wicked Library podcast.

A social worker by trade, she threads social awareness themes into her stories. And her first full length YA novel, Doll, is no exception. Bullying is a struggle that children face on a daily basis, and it can have deeply traumatizing repercussions, even into adulthood, and Austin handles to topic deftly.
Austin packs plenty of magic and mystery into this story and the protagonist, Tomie, a black male high school student, has a refreshing innocence throughout.

It’s rare to see a book where the teenagers take the ramifications of a decision into account before making it and Austin is able to capture in a believable manner the maturity some teens possess. She has also portrayed voodoo, not as evil in and of itself, but as a tool that can be harnessed in a variety of ways depending on the intent of the user, something Hollywood rarely does with conjure magics.

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Find out more about Miracle on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 22: V.H. Galloway

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Veronica Henry writes speculative fiction under the name V.H. Galloway. Born in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., she is a resident of Austin, TX, who has also lived in Ohio, California, and Nevada. From her career in tech, to her fascination with the stars, she is made of and loves all things geek.
In 2008, she traced her African ancestry to Sierra Leone and the subsequent trip still remains one of her proudest moments and her fiction often incorporates African themes.
Her short story “We Have Ended” is an example. It was chosen to be a part of Fiyah Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction’s first issue, “Rebirth,” a review of which you can find earlier on this blog.

Her horror/sci-fi hybrid, The Un-United States Of Z is a trilogy series that even for non-zombie fans has been described as “tasteful insanity.” In this trilogy, Galloway shows that even during the zombie apocalypse, the country remains racially divided. She has said “Reflecting this reality in my work is important because I think that its is only through ongoing dialogue that we can effect change.”

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Learn more about Veronica on her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

Day 21: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911) was born to a free African-American woman in Baltimore, and studied at her uncle’s school, the William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. She worked briefly as a servant, becoming a teacher in Ohio and Pennsylvania when she was in her mid-to-late twenties.

In 1854, she moved to the Boston area, and became active in abolitionist movement, lecturing publicly against slavery. In that same year, she  published Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, which sold over ten thousand copies.

In 1859, her story “The Two Offers” was published in Anglo-African Magazine, making her the first African-American woman to publish a short story in the United States.

The story concerns two cousins, Laura and Janette, who consider Laura’s two offers of marriage. Janette suggest her cousin’s hesitation is due to her not wanting either man. Laura feels obligated to marry. Harper does not disclose the race of the the characters, suggesting similarities in how women are viewed and treated in black and white society. Her story provides an alternative to the established gender roles of the age, letting Janette embrace the idea of having her freedom by becoming “an old maid.”

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Some may say this story isn’t horrific enough. Since women of the time faced these choices–marry or live in poverty, I’ve decided to include it. A line from Harper’s story:

A shadow fell around her path; it came between her and the object of her heart’s worship; first a few cold words, estrangement, and then a painful separation; the old story of woman’s pride—digging the sepulchre of her happiness, and then a new-made grave, and her path over it to the spirit world; and thus faded out from that young heart her bright, brief and saddened dream of life.

Read “The Two Offers” online free.

 

Day 20: Octavia Butler

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Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Pasadena Community College, and attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California.

A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known women in the field. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant”.

After writing her now-prophetic novels Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998), Butler had planned to write additional books in the series–Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. In interviews, Butler noted that the research and writing of the Parable novels had overwhelmed and depressed her, so she had shifted to something “lightweight” and “fun” instead. Fledgling was born.

Although best known for her award-winning science fiction, Butler’s final novel is a vampire tale, entitled Fledgling. Like most of her work, it has themes of race and otherness.

The novel explores a vampire community living in a host/symbiont relationship  with humans. Fledgling tells of the coming-of-age of a young female hybrid vampire (She’s in her 5os, but looks like an eleven year old). The only survivor of a vicious attack on her family that left her an amnesiac, she must seek justice for her dead, build a new family, and relearn who she is.

 

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Buy Fledgling and find out more about Octavia and study her work with NOLA Wild Seeds, a a feminist-of-color collective that uses speculative fiction and art as a resource for social change.

Day 19: Rasheedah Prioleau

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Rasheedah Prioleau is a southern African American writer and filmmaker with an eclectic range of writing and ghostwriting credits. After a few years in the corporate world she started over from the bottom as an unpaid intern for a literary manager and never looked back.

“I love to write because there are no limits. All it takes is a finite space of time and I can create a story from infinite possibilities.”

Writers who have influenced her include: Judy Blume, Jude Deveraux, V.C. Andrews, Octavia Butler, Stephanie Meyer, and Charlaine Harris… just to name a few.

Her first film project of the year is The Descended, inspired by her Gullah ancestry, which is the story of two estranged sisters who travel to the South to inherit land they never knew about.  Along the way, a restless spirit possesses one of them and other must work with local Witches in order to save her. The full pilot script was an Official Selection at the 2016 Fright Night and the October 2016 Indie Wise Film Festivals.

Her novel Everlasting: Da Eb’Bulastin (Sa’Fyre Island Book One) is also steeped in Gullah-Geechee culture. After another incident of sleepwalking, Aiyana wakes up lying under the stars on Sa’Fyre Island, an island off the coast of South Carolina with a rich Gullah and Native American history. Believing the incidents have something to do with her long awaited transition into queen of the island, Aiyana shrugs them off. Soon she learns the transition involves an unwanted possession and the revelation of a dark family curse.

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To learn more about Rasheedah, check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 18: Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931. A novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, her work is best known for its epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters.

Beloved (1987) won Morrison the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, yet is one of the most highly disputed works in terms of genre. Many contend that it is not a work of horror, even though it is a ghost story, and is rife with isolation, violence and paranormal activity. Others, myself included, contend that horror’s definition desperately needs widening, to embrace this masterpiece of a work. As such, it is one of the books in the 28 Days of Black Women in Horror giveaway.

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But Beloved isn’t Morrison’s first foray into speculative fiction.

Morrison points out that with its island of spirits and talking trees, her novel Tar Baby (1981), is more “timeless phantasmagoria” than identifiable present reality. Her latest novel, God Help the Child–her 11th–is a successor of sorts to Tar Baby in theme: beauty, self-image, and blackness.

Pick up Morrison’s books on Amazon. For more about her, head over to her website and follow her on Twitter.